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Getting round to study – 5 tips to help you take the plunge!

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If , like me, it’s been a long time since you attempted academic study (I don’t think they still use chalk boards in classrooms/lecture theatres anymore?) you will understand the difficulties faced when attempting to sit down and write an assignment or revise for an exam.

Recently I embarked upon a professional qualification in marketing and despite the fact that ‘this is what I do’ (as is the same for you Compliance Officers and MLROs undertaking an ICA qualification) I soon realised that there was a slight gap between practice and theory. That gap being that in my every day role there was no requirement for me to back up what I was doing with various academic models, case studies and further reading.

Anyway I soon found myself making all sorts of excuses not to sit down and attempt my first 6,000 word assignment (yes 6,000 – you ICA assignment writers have it easy with only 3,000 words!) Going to the gym, extra work projects even my first attempt at baking cookies – all suddenly seemed far more important than my essay.

It was a struggle and by the time my next assignment came around I vowed to be more organised and focused on the matter in hand. Three down and one to go I feel like I have almost mastered the art of knuckling down so I thought I’d share my top five tips with you:

  1. Book a day’s study leave  – evenings and snatched time at weekends are ok but a good solid day will prove far more productive. I advise avoiding home (see urge to bake cookies above) and instead opt for the tranquillity of the library or even a meeting room at work (but make sure you tell your colleagues not to disturb you).

  2. Speak to other people on your course– whether it’s sharing knowledge and revision tips or simply chatting to someone in the same boat as you, it’s good to talk! ICT has an online study and networking Linkedin group -  if you’d like to join, click http://www.linkedin.com/groups?gid=4246170

  3. Don’t leave it until the last minute – an obvious one this but worth reiterating. The stresses of work and home life are usually enough without having to add last minute study to the mix.

  4. Look at past papers – this can help immensely in the run up to an exam as you can see the style and format of the questions. However don’t fall for the old trick of trying to predict the subject matter of questions based on what was covered in a previous exam -unfortunately there is no magic algorithm!

  5. Don’t panic! – we’ve all had that moment when we’ve looked an assignment/exam question and thought ‘I haven’t a clue how to approach this!’ Remember, it is not the role of the Examiner to confuse or trick you so look at the question again and break it down into smaller components. If it’s an assignment question and you’re still confused, get in touch with your tutor who will be happy to provide guidance (ICT students can do this online through the ‘student support’ area of the ICT website or simply drop us a line). If it’s an exam question, don’t waste time panicking, move onto the next question and come back to it later. You may find that your thought processes in answering a different question trigger a light bulb moment and you’re able to refocus.


So there’s my advice. It’s not rocket science but it’s worked for me. One other thing - you lucky ICT students also have the option of being allocated a mentor (someone who has already completed an ICA qualification who can offer guidance and support). If you’re interested in either having a mentor or becoming one, get in touch on +44(0)121 362 7534 or ict@int-comp.com

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